Many moons ago, when we moved into this house, The Boy and I were brimming with hopes and dreams. He would look around our property starry-eyed and see a solarium, a stone walkway, he saw decks supported by beams that weren’t just plopped onto the tamped-down ground, but actually supported on something that wouldn’t rot. I looked around and saw gardens. Vegetable gardens, proper flower beds, a mini-rose garden (ha!) and… a herb garden. That summer, on one of our many (many) visits to Canadian Tire, I picked up a number of plants and among them, some mint. (And because I was feeling sassy that day, I chose the chocolate mint hybrid. One day maybe I’ll grow up and get some peppermint as well, although really those two are nearly the same damn plant.)
Now, I know mint’s reputation, its eery tendency to sprawl and take over any space where you’ve been foolish enough to plant it. I knew that mint would not be contained in a neatly-bordered herb garden, and I had no particular desire to be ripping it out every year as it crowded my other herbs. With this in mind, I planted three mint plants under the pine trees in our back yard. That area already had a healthy growth of violet and… some variegated-leafed foliage (if you know what that stuff is, feel free to educate me), so I didn’t expect much from the mint: honestly, just survival would be good enough. So, I planted them, watered them once or twice, then promptly forgot about it.
This summer, as I was staring off into space or, more specifically, into the space under the pines, I thought I saw a familiar leaf formation. Could it be? Could it be that my mint had survived all these years under such hideously neglectful conditions? I vaguely remembered the cats occasionally rolling around in fits of delight (or maybe delirium) under the aforementioned pines. Maybe the mint had somehow survived? Hmm…
Yup. A quick rub and sniff confirmed it. Not only was it mint, but it was my mint — the chocolatey notes just barely there, a darker under-smell, if that makes any sense. Standing under the pines, I looked around a bit and realized… whoa. The mint’s reputation had held true: it had spread. In fact, it had gone rogue:
I imagine that if I were standing under there after a heavy rain (it would need to be a heavy rainfall to penetrate those pines) it would smell pretty amazing. I might need to uproot a good 6 or 10 of the plants to keep them in check for next year, though. Still, as weeds go, mint isn’t that bad. After all, I can now make myself mojitos any damn time I want or, as in this evening, tabouleh! (Yes, that’s right: chocolate mint tabouleh.) So I hopped to!
I grabbed a healthy handful of the mint and skipped off to the kitchen where I proceeded to chop it up along with this week’s parsley, some cucumber, a couple peas, some carrot shavings. I have to say that since making it last year sometime, tabouleh has become one of my favourite salads. I used quinoa in place of the bulgur this time, stirred everything together and was soon looking at this:
After a couple mouthfuls though, I decided that I missed the nuttiness that the bulgur leant; frankly the quinoa was not a good substitute — it had no voice, which meant the lemon was overpowering. My poor salad needed another component to help keep everything else in balance. Sacriliciously, I chose ham. So a couple minutes and a frying pan later, we had this…
…which answers the question of what I eat when The Boy’s not around: I’ll eat pretty much anything that’s easy to throw together, and not only that, but I’ll eat it in the bowl I mixed it in. I wouldn’t say that I get lazy, exactly, when it comes to cooking for myself, but if I’m not cooking something designed to create leftovers or future freezer meals, then I definitely start skimping on the dishes. (To be honest, if I hadn’t salted the cukes in a bowl while cutting up everything else, I probably would have eaten this out of the pot I cooked the quinoa in. Was that TMI? I never know.)
Unrelatedly, I was completely stoked that I got to pour my leftover dressing into one of my 8, 752 mason jars and slap one of my brand-new chalkboard paint lids on it:
If you’re anything like me, your fridge is full of miscellaneous jars of syrups, dressings, sauces, pickles* and goo. And if you’re like me, your memory can only take you so far, and after awhile you will forget not only when you put the jar in question in the fridge (as if it matters…) but what was actually supposed to BE in the jar.
Enter the chalkboard lids.
Ever since seeing the idea on pinterest a couple months ago, I’ve been dying to do this myself, and last week, I finally did! However, since I really don’t like messing around with separate lids and rings after a jar is opened (seriously, it’s a pain in the ass) that idea wasn’t going to fly. Luckily, I’ve been hoarding Classico pasta sauce jar lids (which are conveniently standard mason sized) for long enough that I had a healthy stash of them. I’d been using those anyway for opened jars — and now, they can easily be labelled with whatever’s in them!
Next step: finding somewhere in Canada that sells those chalk ink markers, so I can write legibly on the lids, and I’m off to the races!
* Being that I haven’t actually found a pickle I like yet, they’re all experimental thus far.